Enjoying the outdoors can be inexpensive, healthy and fun, with many walking tracks within Cambridge and its surrounds.
Cambridge Township Walks
Call into the i-SITE to pick up a map of these fabulous walkways. Or you can view and download a MAP HERE but you need a large printer! Visit lakes, rivers, wetlands and mountains all within one hour from Cambridge. Tracks can vary from easy walks to more strenuous exercise – the ones listed here should be achievable by most people of average fitness.
Lake Te Koo Utu
Tucked away in the heart of Cambridge, Lake Te Koo Utu provides a tranquil and easy walking trail. The trail is accessible, and the variety of trees and gardens planted around the lake make for varied and picturesque settings year-round. There is a nice flat loop around the Lake, accessed from Albert Street carpark. There are also 7 trails leading up and down from the lake for those that like to get the heartrate up!
Lake Te Koo Utu to Oliver Street
This short walk runs from Lake Te Koo Utu car park on Albert Street, down Carters Crescent, and into Oliver Street, following the formed footpaths. The path joins Ann’s Track behind Wackrows Joinery opposite Mitre 10 on Gillies Avenue.
The track through Ann’s Patch can be accessed from Albert St, across the road from the Duke St Hill. It can also be reached from Gillies St. down a track beside the fence near Wackrow’s joinery. There is a sign “Walkway” showing where to go.
Town Belt Walkway
Cambridge has a Green Belt, much of which has walkways to follow. A popular walk takes you from Lake Te Koo Utu, head north to Victoria Road and walk the gravel path parallel to this road (in the middle of the dual carriageway), past the Hautapu Rugby grounds, until you get to a blue bridge on the right. Cross the bridge and follow the walkway through gully plantings and behind Cambridge Oaks Village. You come out at Joes Garage for a welcome coffee or lunch stop. From there, cross Swayne Road into another walkway that takes you adjacent to the expressway through lovely plantings. You have the option of exiting at any point along this walkway or walk all the way to Thornton Road. Turn right onto Thornton Road and follow this all the way back to Lake Te Koo Utu.
This walkway takes you along the edge of the Waikato River under Victoria Bridge and around the Waipa District Council building where the Cambridge Tree Trust has cleared old pine trees and is replanting them with various native and exotic trees.
Settlers Track runs from Bath St under the High-Level bridge to the boat ramp in Riverside Park on Dominion Avenue. The easy way into this track is from the boat ramp near the junction with Karapiro Stream, by Achilles Ave. Toilets and parking are available at the skate park in Dominion Ave. The track is at water level, which provides an intimate view of flora and fauna which thrive in that environment. Mosses, ferns, liverwort, etc. growing out of fallen and water-logged tree-trunks are irresistibly eye-catching. The track occasionally floods in winter, and care should be exercised
The Soldier’s Track runs from under the high-level Victoria Bridge to the low level Ferguson Bridge in Shakespeare St.
The mature trees which remain above the walk include impressive specimens of several species. A group of seven magnolias was planted near the southern end of the high-level bridge to commemorate the centenary of its construction
Poet’s Track could once be accessed from under the (high level) Victoria St. Bridge, but erosion closed that section, and access is now opposite the gymnasium on Pope Terrace, Gill Lumb Park, or Fletcher Place. It is an easy grade along its lengthz.
Nature Reserve River Trail – Addison Street Walkway
This track loops around the southern part of the town; it is mostly an easy grade with some steps. For walking, the two most interesting corners of Leamington are its northeast and southwest. In the northeast corner is the Kingsley Street Reserve above the river and the bridge leading into Shakespeare St. The first leg of the walk goes along Addison Street. At its end, a bridge over a stream leads into grazed fields. Bear right, and follow the path near the fence. Part way along, a swinging pedestrian gate takes you inside the fence.
This is all very easy-going, and a lot of earlier planting by the Cambridge Tree Trust can be seen. You will come to the heart of this area: two streams combining and coming to a boulder dam. Sit, look, and listen to the water and the birds.
Back to the path, and continue the way you were going. The little maze of paths is a bit confusing at this point, but use your sense of direction, and you should be able to find either a flight of steps which takes you up to the Leamington Cemetery in Wordsworth St, or, more to your right, a long but not too demanding set of steps which leads to Upper Kingsley Street. At this point, you’re in among mature trees, including massive eucalypts.
From the bottom of those steps, there is a pathway which cuts through to a stand of conifers and leads down to the lower end of Kingsley Street. If you want to try that from the other end, it’s opposite 105 Kingsley St.
Leamington Walkway including Wetlands Walkway
The Leamington Walkway can be followed from Wordsworth Street, along Carlyle Street and Lamb Street, until you reach Rowling Place.
In the southwest corner of Leamington there is a wetland area between Rowling Place, Knox Place, Arnold Street and Shelley Street. In progressive stages it was cleared of brambles and planted with trees.
Access across the wetland is made possible via a boardwalk and bridge, thanks to a generous financial contribution from Waipa District Council. A walk along Shelley Street and Bracken Street will bring you to Pope Terrace, near the river, where the officially designated Leamington Walkway ends.
The Meadow Walk is on the Leamington side of the Waikato River, opposite Lola Silcock Park and exits at Alpers Ridge.
It is intended to be just as its name says, a walk across a meadow, surrounded by trees. Most of them are natives, but there is a fruit grove, along with several fruit trees close to the track so that their fruit may be readily picked in due season, and there will be a patch or two of English trees for autumn colour. The 50 fruit trees marking the Cambridge Lions 50th anniversary have been planted there.
The walk is close to the riverbank and passes through a variety of landscapes- meadow, wetland, wildflowers, food forest, English woodland and native regenerating forest. It is a major undertaking that took over 5 years, but it adds real variety and interest to local walking tracks.
Te Awa River Walk – to the Velodrome
From the i-SITE – turn right into Alpha Street and follow the road down to the Gaslight Theatre. Follow the dedicated pathway to the Grassroots Trust Velodrome. It is relatively flat with a couple of short steep hills. Partway along this cycle way, you can turn left into a gravel path which will take you up to Hamilton Road and link to another perimeter pathway around sports fields and the Cambridge Green Belt.
Te Awa River Walk – to Karapiro
Connecting Cambridge to Karapiro is the Te Awa walk/cycle way which is mostly dedicated pathway to the Mighty River Domain on the shores of Lake Karapiro. Approximately 15 km from the i-SITE or 8 kms from cnr of Maungatautari Road and Carlyle Street. Mostly flat, the cycle way runs adjacent to Maungatautari Road and runs through the Karapiro Domain. You can stop at the Café or just carry on for another couple of kms past the rowing start gates to the end.
Take a stroll around the St Kilda wetland, or cycle in from town on the dedicated cycle path and make an afternoon of it! Bring the kids and enjoy watching on as they play in the adjacent playground.
Pick up a Cambridge Map to view the many pathways to access St Kilda. A popular walk from Joes Garage takes you over the bridge at Swayne Road and right into quiet Appleby Road. Walkers are delighted to walk past a small farm that has pigs which love to be fed your left over scraps. At the end of the walkway, cross the road into St Kilda and make your way around one of the wetland lakes, or to the playground and café.
The Green Belt, Maple and Oak Arboretums
The Cambridge Green belt includes river and bush walks, oak and maple arboretums, open spaces, farmland and wetlands. Perfect for walkers and runners, dogs (on leads), and much of it is push chair friendly.
Go Exploring Beyond Cambridge Township
For more information and distances go to www.te-awa.org.nz
Distance from i-SITE: 6.2 km
Track Length: 1.2 km
What once housed a substantial homestead, and later a TB Sanatorium for returned servicemen, the Maungakawa scenic reserve boasts regenerating native forest with a scattering of exotic trees, plenty of native birdlife and the 30 minute loop walk. The reserve is also a great spot for picnics, with stunning views out over Cambridge and beyond.
The Maungakawa Loop walk is set in the Maungakawa Scenic Reserve near Cambridge. This easy bush walk includes descriptive signage identifying native trees along the way and is perfect for young families and dogs!
Distance from i-SITE: 49 km
Track length: 4 km loop
This loop track follows through the bush and up to the summit, with a lookout tower and great views across to the Kaimai Ranges and Firth of Thames. Access to this loop track is from Pikonui Road at Richmond Downs – 40 min drive from Cambridge and on the southern side of Maungakawa.
From the car park, the track leads a short distance into the bush before splitting in two directions.
The track to the right is shorter but does involve a steady climb to the summit and lookout tower. The track to the left is gentler but quite a bit longer. An anti-clockwise route is recommended i.e., take the steeper option up and the easier option down.
Distance from i-SITE: 31 km
Track Length: 6 km
One of the Waikato region’s natural wetlands. Plentiful birdlife around the lake make for ample bird watching opportunities, and the mostly flat walking track, picnic area and playground make this a great family walk in the Waikato. The walking track passes through bush areas, farmland and wetlands as it navigates around the lake, with signage providing information and illustrations about the local ecology.
Distance from i-SITE: 36 km
Track Length: 7.4 km one way
For more detailed information go to www.sanctuarymountain.co.nz
The original track (free to enter and walk) which heads over the three peaks of Maungatautari, Pukeatua and Rocky outcrop is accessed at the same location in the north (currently closed) and south of the mountain.
You can choose a 7.4 kilometer out and back trail located that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. Alternatively you can add in the Rocky Outcrop and Pukeatua Peak for views and more tramping style tracks.
Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari has a Visitor Centre and offers paid tours though their “Southern Enclosure”. As a charitable trust every cent they make goes straight back into the conservation work they do.
The northern enclosure located at Hicks Road is able to be accessed by public. Parking for this area is located directly in front of Maungatautari marae at the base of the mountain. Please follow signs and do not park on private property near the entrance.
The entrance is surrounded by private farmland, so please use the available track and keep to the path. The path to the northern enclosure is roughly 1.5km on mountain terrain and also includes some steep areas. Please be careful when venturing to this area.
Dog’s are not permitted in the sanctuary at any time to protect the native species living within the sanctuary.
There are outdoor (long-drop) bathrooms available within the northern enclosure, which are not actively monitored each day. Please take this into consideration when you are planning your day trip to the maunga.
The loop track within the northern enclosure is roughly 1.5km and takes an estimated 35 minutes to complete the track.
Pioneer Walk (Te Awamutu)
Distance from i-SITE: 18 km
Pioneer Walk is an easy stroll through some of the best scenic spots inside the town boundary. The walk begins at Sculpture Park on Albert Park Drive and runs alongside the Manga-o-Hoi Stream. You can choose to go through the Rose Gardens or continue the riverside walk, but either way you end up at the War Memorial Park. From there you can continue past the netball courts to Eileen Montefiore Reserve on Racecourse Road. This section of the walk totals about 1.6km.
25-minute drive from Cambridge i-SITE. Access is off Ngaroto Road off SH3. The track is board walked and suitable for pushchairs. It passes through a stand of remnant kahikatea. A viewing platform gives a birds-eye view of the forest canopy.
Distance from i-SITE: 33 km
Track Length: 2-3 hours return
From the car park there is a walking track to the summit. This track is an old farm road and is of an easy gradient. This track incorporates the mountain biking track for part of the way – mountain bikers and walkers share the bottom 3/4 of the track. Once at the top continue along a ridge through a fine remnant of original forest in the ancient crater and finally onto the summit itself (449 m). Climb a few last steps to the top of the new lookout tower.
Distance from i-SITE: 45 mins
Track Length – Various
A network of basic tracks allows exploration of this 40-ha private reserve accessed of Whitikahu-Tauhei Road. There is a lookout platform at a high point giving panoramic views of the Waikato basin. This reserve is an excellent place for family outings, with plant identification plaques and a covered gazebo and large picnic area.
Distance from i-SITE: 32 mins
Track Length: 5.2 km one way
Experience the magic of Te Waihou “the new water”. The walkway follows alongside the upper reaches of the Waihou River, where the water is extremely clear and pure, being fed by many springs and from tributary streams in the Mamaku ranges. Water flows from the Blue Springs at a rate of 42 cubic metres per minute. Look out for the trout, or if you have a license, have a go at fishing. There is a short walk or long walk option, accessed from different start points.
Waikato River Trails
For more detailed information and maps go to www.waikatorivertrails.co.nz or pick up one of the River Trail brochures from the i-SITE. Brief descriptions below:
Easy to get to from State Highway 1, the northern end of the Waikato River Trails are located on Horahora Road. The northern most point of the Trail is the Pokaiwhenua Bridge carpark, it has capacity for about 25 cars. From the carpark the first 5.3km of Trail is next to the road, the trail is easy. From Little Waipa Reserve the Trail sits alongside Lake Karapiro and winds its way 6.2km to Arapuni Village. This extremely popular section of trail takes a route through a unique wetland over a 500m long continuous boardwalk. The destination for many is the Rhubarb Café in Arapuni Village.
This section of Trail starts at the Arapuni Swing bridge, after 2km on trail, it joins country roads through to Waipapa Dam, the route is well sign posted. The road section is mostly sealed with a short section of unsealed road. The gradient includes some long steep climbs. Halfway though this section is the Arohena Conservation campsite, a good place to rest or camp.
On the opposite side of the Waikato River, the Trail between Arapuni Dam to Jones Landing (4km) and Waipapa Dam to Mangarewa Suspension Bridge (10km) are still open however there is no continuous Trail connecting these two areas
Accessed from Mangakino Lakefront or the Waipapa Dam this 19.6km section is for those looking for a little adventure. Once into this section there are no alternative routes off the trail so plan for a good 2–3-hour ride. The trail combines high-quality custom-built trails through native bush with long flowing forestry trails. There are some steep areas giving this section its advanced grading. At the Mangakino end of this section near the Maraetai Dams are historic sites where the construction of the Dams was based. Information panels are situated in the area to tell some of the stories. There is a short 500m on road section from Mangakino Lakefront along Lake Road, please watch out for vehicles. The Waipapa section is more remote than other sections but should not be missed.
Easily accessed from Mangakino Lakefront or Whakamaru Dam this 12.1 km section has great views along Lake Maraetai.
The Dam Cafe at Whakamaru and the Bus Stop and Hui Hut Cafes in Mangakino provide excellent re-fuelling stops. In the middle of this section is the 70m long Mangakino stream suspension bridge.
Easily accessed from Whakamaru Dam this 26km section is almost always in sight of the scenic and expansive Lake Whakamaru. The stunning Pohuturoa rock, a magnificent historically significant feature is in your sights as you wind along the trail. This section has been extended into the Atiamuri Village and has a designated shelter and carpark for you to use.
The Trail then hugs the Lake through pine forest native bush and adjacent to farmland. Halfway through this section across the lake bluffs rise from the lake providing an amazing backdrop.
Once at the Whakamaru Dam it’s only a short ride to The Dam Café in the Whakamaru Village for a well-deserved break.
Distance from i-SITE: 30 – 45 mins depending on starting place.
Track Length: Various
For more detailed information and maps CLICK HERE
You can also pick up a Map from The Cambridge i-SITE
Kaniwhaniwha Tracks – from Limework Loops Road:
Nikau Walk – 7 km return
The walking track starts from the Kaniwhaniwha car park through a planted area and follows along the stream to the loop walk, lush with nikau palms and tree ferns. There are opportunities for swimming and picnicking along the stream and a campsite with toilets is a short distance off the track.
Kaniwhaniwha Caves – 7 km return
The two limestone caves are near the start of the Bell Track, 5 min from the junction with the Nikau Walk. You can walk through the 20 m long main cave, but please note there is a short hands and knees crawl. The cave is wet underfoot so you will need a torch. The second smaller cave is tight and narrow.
Kahikatea Tree – 12 km return
From the Kaniwhaniwha car park, follow the Nikau Walk on to the Bell Track and past the Kaniwhaniwha Caves. The track becomes undulating, with some uneven ground and muddy sections along Blue Bull Stream up to the swing bridge. Do not cross the swing bridge. Continue upstream for 10 min beyond the bridge to the kahikatea tree with its distinctive buttressed trunk. At 66,5 m this is the tallest recorded native tree in New Zealand.
At the end of Grey Road, there is a large parking area with viewing tower and information shelter. It is a good place to learn more about Pirongia Forest Park and is also the location of Pirongia Forest Park Lodge.
Mangakara Nature Walk
This walk is well suited to family outings, It provides a self-guided trail through attractive native forest, with fine examples of Rimu, Kahikatea, Tawa, Pukatea and Kohekohe. Points of interest, along the walk are marked with numbered posts. The track descends from the carpark to Mangakara Stream, doing a loop around the stream and then back along the track to the car park.
Tracks to Pirongia Lookouts
A moderate level of fitness is required for these tracks.
Corcoran Road Lookout – 15 min return
A 100 m walk that is accessible, leads through forest from Corcoran Road end to a picnic area and view point. There are extensive views across the Waikato Basin to Hamilton and Te Aroha Mountain beyond.
Ruapane Lookout – via Tirohanga Track – 2 km one way
A steady climb from Corcoran Road along the Tirohanga Track leads to Ruapane Trig. The track starts from the car park and follows a formed track up steps. Nearer the top, the formed track ends and a tramping track leads up over rock to the trig viewpoint. An excellent view extends across the Waikato Basin to the Kaimai Ranges.
Ruapane Lookout – via Ruapane Track – 4 km one way
This track starts at the Waite Road car park and follows up a slippery gully before reaching the bush edge. From here, the track follows a ridge that becomes steeper as it reaches the junction of the Tirohanga Track. It then climbs steadily up a rocky outcrop to the trig.
Wharauroa and Mahaukura Lookout via Mahaukura Track – 4.6 km one way
The Mahaukura Track starts at the Grey Road car park and climbs steadily through tawa forest to Wharauroa Lookout. The last 30 m before the viewpoint are quite steep and chains have been bolted to the rock to guide you. The lookout offers one of the best views from Pirongia of Hamilton, Te Awamutu and the surrounding landscape. Another 30 mins along the track is Mahaukura Lookout with further views further south toward the King Country.
Wharauroa and Mahaukura Lookout via Wharauroa Track -3.5 km one way
The Wharauroa Track provides and alternative access to these lookouts. The track crosses private farmland from o-Shea Road car park so please keep to the marked track and use stiles. The bush edge is reached after 30 min and then there is a steep climb up a tawa-covered spur to the lookouts.
Hihikiwi Lookout – 4.8 km one way
The track starts off steeply from Pirongia West Road before settling into a steady climb to Hihikiwi Lookout. The track is muddy in places with some sections of boardwalk and a wooden viewing platform at the lookout. This is one of the best vantage points over the west coast harbours and a great place to watch the sunset if staying a Pahautea hut.
Tracks to Pirongia Summit
A good level of fitness is required for these tracks.
Mahaukura Track – 9 km one way
From Grey Road car park, follow the track to Wharauroa Lookout then on for another 30 min to Mahaukura. The track undulates over small peaks and is uneven underfoot. From Mahaukura, the track descends steeply before climbing again toward Pirongia summit viewing tower. This track can also be accessed off O’Shea Road.
Tirohanga Track – 6.5 km one way
The track starts from Corcoran Road, climbs to Ruapane then traverse an undulating ridge on uneven ground before passing Tirohanga Bluff, a pinnacle of hard lava signifying its volcanic origins. The track then descends and climbs before reaching the Pirongia summit.
Bell Track – 18.5 km one way
Starting at he Kaniwhaniwha car park, follow the Nikau walk on to the Bell Track and past the Kaniwhaniwha Caves. Cross the bridge near the big kahikatea and climb a spur to a series of clearings. The last clearing signposted as the halfway point has a small stream nearby and is a good campsite. The track becomes quite muddy at this point and continues along the ridge to the Cone and to Pahautea hut.
Tahuanui Track – 10.7 km one way
From the Kaniwhaniwha car park, follow the Nikau Walk to the campsite. The Tahuanui track leaves the campsite beside the stream and climbs steadily up a ridge to join the Tirohanga track before the summit
Hihikiwi Track – 6.4 km one way
This is the shortest track to Pahautea hut. Starting at Pirongia West Road, 10 km from Ngutunui School, the first section of the track climbs steeply via a series of steps before settling into a steady climb to Hihikiwi lookout. There are views west along the way but the best vantage point over the west co
Wairere Falls Track
Track Length: 3-4 hours return
Accessed from Goodwin Road off the Te Aroha-Gordon Road, this walking track takes you through beautiful natural scenery and up to the spectacular 153-m high falls. The falls lookout and summit offer magnificent views of the valley and the Waikato Basin.
Track Length: Various
The Waiorongomai Valley is a significant historic gold mining site in the Kaimai-Mamaku Forest Park. The valley offers several tramping and walking opportunities following old mining trails. The Low Level loop is popular. From the carpark follow the signposted Low Level Loop track as it winds up the valley through regenerating bush, across a few small streams and past a small tunnel and pipeline.
Distance from i-SITE: 45 mins
Track Length: Various
At 952m, Mt Te Aroha is the highest point on the Kaimai-Mamaku range. A number of walks, tramping and mountain bike tracks are based around the Te Aroha Domain.
Te Aroha Domain Upper and Lower Walks – 20 mins
Beginning at the Mokena Geyser, you choose either the Upper Walk or the Lower Walk (which is accessible).
Tui Domain Track – 1 hr 30 min
Starting at the Mokena Geyser, this track takes you through regenerating bush and past mountain streams. There is a 5-min detour to a waterfall lookout before you reach the junction with the Tui Link track and finally emerge into Tui Road.
Bald Spur Track – 45 mins
Starting at the Mokena Geyser, the track zigzags its way through mature pines and Puriri that were planted in the early 1900s. The Whakapipi lookout provides a stunning view of Te Aroha Township, the wetlands, river and beyond.
Te Aroha Summit Track –3 hours to top
Continue from Bald Spur Track look-out point steeply for 2 hours to the summit.
Howarth Memorial Wetland Loop Walk – 1 hr circuit
On the left bank of the Waihou river, a well-formed walk creates a circuit around an established wildlife refuge and wetland area. Access is from Spur st, via a footbridge at the end of Lawrence Ave, or via a boardwalk at Kenwyn Reserve on Kenrick St.
For more information and maps – visit the Cambridge i-SITE – open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm and 10am to 2 pm on Weekends.
Address: 79 Queen Street, Cambridge
Phone: 07 823 3456